Author

Douglas Kronaizl

Douglas Kronaizl is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Glenn Youngkin wins Republican nomination for governor of Virginia

The Republican Party of Virginia selected Glenn Youngkin as its nominee for governor in an unassembled convention on May 8. Youngkin received 55% of the delegate vote in the sixth and final round of vote-counting, which ended on May 10.

Incumbent Ralph Northam (D) is unable to seek re-election due to term limits, leaving the position open.

Youngkin is the former president of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm. He defeated six other candidates, including business owner Pete Snyder, state Sen. Amanda Chase, and former House Speaker Kirk Cox. Peter Doran, Octavia Johnson, and Sergio de la Pena also ran in the convention. The Republican Party chose to use ranked-choice voting in 2021. Results from each round of the vote-counting are shown below:

Youngkin submitted a Candidate Connection survey to Ballotpedia ahead of the convention. In it, he said, “We need a governor with real-world experience who can create jobs, keep businesses from leaving, put an open-for-business sign on Virginia, and create a rip-roaring economy that lifts all Virginians.”

Youngkin led the field of Republican candidates in fundraising. According to campaign finance reports, he raised $7.7 million as of March 31. Youngkin was also the largest target of satellite spending during the convention. Two organizations, Patriot Leadership Trust and Virginia Cornerstone PAC, spent a combined total of roughly $459,000 on advertisements and mailers opposing his candidacy.

The general election for Governor of Virginia will be held on Nov. 2, 2021. Youngkin will face the winner of the June 8 Democratic primary and independent candidates Princess Blanding, Paul Davis, and Brad Froman.

The last Republican to win the governorship in Virginia was Bob McDonnell (R), elected in 2009. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, creating a Democratic trifecta in the state for the first time since 1994.

To learn more about the Republican convention for Governor of Virginia, click here.



Here’s how Virginia Republicans will select their statewide nominees on May 8

Republicans in Virginia will be meeting on Saturday to pick their statewide nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. The Republican Party of Virginia chose to hold an unassembled convention rather than a primary, meaning delegates, voters who registered to participate in the convention, will decide the nominees.

Conventions in Virginia typically take place with delegates meeting at a single location, but due to coronavirus restrictions, the party developed a new set of rules for 2021. Here’s a breakdown:

• The convention is taking place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on May 8, 2021.

• Delegates will meet at 39 different locations across the state. Each delegate represents a voting unit and may only vote at the polling place assigned to his or her given voting unit.

• There are 125 voting units. These units mainly correspond with each of the state’s 95 counties and 38 independent cities.

• Over 53,000 delegates registered to participate in the convention, a record number.

Delegate votes are weighted. The state party allocated a set number of votes to each voting unit, which will, in turn, be divided among the delegates assigned to that voting unit. For example, if the party allocated 100 votes to a unit and 100 delegates participate, each delegate would have one vote. If 200 delegates participate in that voting unit, each would have half a vote.

• The convention will use ranked-choice voting, an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots rather than voting for just one candidate. If one candidate wins a majority of voters’ first-preference votes, they win outright. Otherwise, the bottom-placing candidate is eliminated and their votes are distributed among their voters’ next choices. The process is repeated until one candidate wins a majority.

• This is the Republican Party of Virginia’s second election using ranked-choice voting. The party previously used the system to select its chairman in 2020. This will be the first time the state party uses the system in a candidate election.

All ballots will be counted by hand. After the convention, the ballots will be delivered to a central location and counting will begin on Sunday. Party chairman Rich Anderson (R) said they are prepared to count until the following Thursday, but he expects counting to be finished by the following Tuesday.

Republicans last won a statewide race in Virginia in 2009, when Bob McDonnell (R) was elected governor. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats won control of both the state House and Senate.

To learn more about the 2021 convention process in Virginia, click here: https://ballotpedia.org/Virginia_gubernatorial_election,_2021_(May_8_Republican_convention)#Conventions_in_Virginia_.282021.29

Learn more about the races up for election on Saturday using the links below:



Republicans lost a net 187 state legislative seats during the Trump presidency

During President Donald Trump’s (R) term, Republicans lost a net 187 state legislative seats. In 61 of the 99 state legislative chambers, the Democratic Party held more seats following the 2020 general election than it did after the general election in 2016.

Five chambers in four states flipped from Republican to Democratic control during the course of the Trump presidency: the Colorado State Senate, Maine State Senate, Minnesota House of Representatives, and both chambers in the Virginia General Assembly. In Colorado, Maine, and Virginia, these flips resulted in the creation of Democratic trifectas, where Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governorship. Republicans did not gain control of any chambers by the end of Trump’s presidency that they did not already control at its start.

Democrats saw positive margin changes in 34 states during Trump’s presidency, either by increasing an already-existing majority or narrowing/flipping a Republican majority. The largest shifts in Democrats’ favor came in Connecticut, Virginia, and Georgia. Republicans saw positive margin changes in 13 states. The largest shifts in Republicans’ favor came in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Louisiana. There were no shifts in Alaska or Nevada. Nebraska, which has a nonpartisan legislature, was excluded from this analysis.

Across all presidencies since 1921, the president’s party has lost a net average of 552 state legislative seats. Trump’s net loss of 187 Republican state legislative seats was the smallest loss of seats for the president’s party since Harry Truman’s (D) presidency, which saw a net loss of 138 Democratic seats. Two presidents—George H.W. Bush (R) and Ronald Reagan (R)—gained state legislative seats over the course of their presidencies. During the past century, the largest Republican losses occurred under the Herbert Hoover (R) administration with a net loss of 1,662 Republican seats from 1929 to 1933. The largest Democratic losses occurred under the Barack Obama (D) administration with a net loss of 948 Democratic seats from 2009 to 2017.

For more detailed information including additional historical comparisons, chamber-specific changes, and methodology, click here:

https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_in_state_legislative_seats_during_the_Trump_presidency



Absentee/mail-in ballot rejection rates decreased in at least 20 states between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections

Ballotpedia’s analysis of 2020 election data shows that at least twenty states rejected a lower percentage of absentee/mail-in ballots during the 2020 presidential election than they did in 2016. At least seven states rejected a greater percentage and four states’ rejected the same percentage. Nineteen states have not yet released data making a comparison possible and were not included in this analysis.

The number of absentee/mail-in ballots cast in the 31 states shown above increased 109% from 24.4 million in 2016 to 50.9 million in 2020. The number of rejected ballots also increased from 222,096 in 2016 to 364,242 in 2020, a 64% increase. 

While the number of absentee/mail-in ballots cast and rejected were both higher in 2020 than in 2016, the rejection rate across these 31 states decreased by 0.2 percentage points from 0.9% in 2016 to 0.7% in 2020.

Nationwide, voters cast just under 33.4 million absentee mail/in ballots in 2016 with a rejection rate of 1.0%. In 2020, voters cast an estimated 65.6 million.

The table below shows the 2020 rejection rates Ballotpedia has gathered so far. Vermont is included with its 2020 rejection rate but excluded from other analyses due to the lack of 2016 data.

Data from 2016 was gathered from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) 2016 Election Administration Voting Survey, a biannual state-by-state analysis of elections’ administration mandated by the 2002 Help America Vote Act. Ballotpedia gathered information on 2020 rejection rates using news sources, publicly available election statistics, and direct outreach to state election officials.

To view more analyses of rejected absentee/mail-in ballots and to learn more about how Ballotpedia gathered this preliminary data, click here: https://ballotpedia.org/Election_results,_2020:_Analysis_of_rejected_ballots



Stothert and Neary advance to the general election for mayor of Omaha

Incumbent Jean Stothert (R) and RJ Neary (D) advanced from the top-two mayoral primary in Omaha, Nebraska, held on April 6, 2021. The two will advance to the general election on May 8, 2021.

According to unofficial results, Stothert received 57% of the vote followed by Neary with 16%. The remaining candidates, Jasmine Harris (D), Kimara Snipes (D), Mark Gudgel (D), and Jerome Wallace Sr. (D) received 14%, 9%, 5%, and 0.1% of the vote, respectively.

Stothert is one of 26 Republican mayors across the country’s 100 largest cities. She was first elected in 2013, following Democratic control of the mayorship since 2001, and won re-election in 2017. She is Omaha’s longest-serving Republican mayor since 1906. According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Stothert had $380,301 on hand.

Neary is the chairman of Investors Realty, a commercial real estate investment company, and the former chairman of the Omaha Planning Board. During the primary, he received endorsements from the city’s three most recent Democratic mayors: Mike Fahey, Jim Suttle, and Mike Boyle. According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Neary had $73,960 on hand.

Omaha is located primarily in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. During the 2020 presidential election, the district voted for Joe Biden (D) after voting for Republicans Mitt Romney (R) and Donald Trump (R) in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Over that time, the presidential election margin in the district shifted 13.7 percentage points from Republicans to Democrats. Romney won by 7.1 points, which decreased to a 2.2-point victory for Trump. Biden won by 6.6 percentage points in 2020.

For more information on the primary and the candidates, click here:

Mayoral election in Omaha, Nebraska (2021)



Republican-controlled Arkansas General Assembly overrides gubernatorial veto of bill prohibiting gender-affirming treatments for minors

On April 6, the Arkansas General Assembly overrode Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) veto of House Bill 1570 (H.B. 1570), a bill prohibiting physicians and healthcare professionals from providing chemical or surgical gender-affirming treatments—including hormone therapy and puberty blockers—to individuals under the age of 18. The bill also prohibits providers from referring minors elsewhere in order to receive such treatments. Gender-affirming treatment, also known as gender reassignment treatment, refers to the process of changing a person’s body to conform with their gender identity.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Flippo (R), a proponent of the bill, described the prohibited treatments as “something that oftentimes could be irreversible,” adding that “it is not simply too much to ask to let [children’s] minds develop and mature a little bit before they make what could be a very permanent and life-changing decision.”

In his veto announcement, Hutchinson said the bill would create “new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people. … This would be, and is, a vast government overreach.”

Hutchinson vetoed H.B. 1570 on April 5. In Arkansas, a majority of votes in both chambers is required to override a gubernatorial veto. At the time of the veto, Republicans held veto-proof majorities in both the state House and Senate.

The House and Senate voted 71-24 and 25-8 in favor of the override, respectively. All Democrats, one independent, and three Republicans voted against the override. The remaining Republicans voted in favor of the override. Seven assembly members—one Democrat and six Republicans—did not vote.

This is the third noteworthy gubernatorial veto override Ballotpedia has identified in 2021.



Milwaukee voters elect four new members to the Board of School Directors

On April 6, Milwaukee voters elected four new members to serve on the Milwaukee Board of School Directors. The Board of School Directors oversees the Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin’s largest school district. Four of the board’s nine seats were up for election.

Aisha Carr, Jilly Gokalgandhi, Marcela Garcia, and Henry Leonard will be sworn in on April 26, after winning their respective elections.

All four seats were open after three incumbents did not file for re-election and the fourth, Annie Woodward, did not submit the required number of signatures to appear on the ballot. Two of the four seats were uncontested: Garcia and Leonard ran unopposed in the races for Districts 6 and 7, respectively.

The elections in District 4 and 5 were both contested. In District 4, Carr, a former high school teacher in the district, defeated Dana Kelley, a community organizer and assistant pastor. In District 5, Gokalgandhi, an equity in education strategist, defeated Alex Brower, the former president of the district’s substitute teachers’ union.

Carr received endorsements from several local legislators including state Sen. Lena Taylor (D) and Rep. David Bowen (D). Gokalgandhi received endorsements from five incumbent school board members including Larry Miller, her district’s outgoing incumbent.

Both Kelley and Brower received endorsements from the local and national Democratic Socialists of America and Milwaukee County Supervisor, Ryan Clancy.

This election will change the number of school board members endorsed by the city’s largest teachers’ union, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA). Following the 2019 school board elections, all nine members had been endorsed by the MTEA for “the first time in memory” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Annysa Johnson.

The number of MTEA-endorsed school board members will decrease to six. Both Kelley and Brower had been endorsed by the union. The union endorsed Leonard in the uncontested District 7 race and did not issue an endorsement in the uncontested District 6 race.



North Dakota Supreme Court rules on state legislative appointment

After a state Supreme Court ruling last fall, North Dakota Rep. Jeff Delzer (R) remains in office at the start of the legislative session following a primary defeat in 2020.

In North Dakota, each of the state’s 47 districts elects two representatives to the state House. Challengers David Andahl and Dave Nehring defeated Delzer in the 2020 primary election and proceeded to the general election for the district’s two seats.

Delzer’s primary defeat highlighted divisions between the legislator and Gov. Doug Burgum (R). During the 2020 primary election, Burgum donated over $3.1 million to a political action committee opposing Delzer. Burgum and Delzer have disagreed over the state’s budgeting in the past. Burgum, as governor, proposes a budget every two years, but the legislature approves the final budget. Delzer, as chair of the House Appropriations Committee, directs those budgeting proceedings in the House.

These divisions became apparent again following the Nov. 3 general election. Andahl and Nehring won election to the district’s two seats, but Andahl passed away a month before the election, leaving one seat immediately vacant.

Under state law, when a legislative vacancy occurs, the former legislator’s district party can appoint a replacement. Burgum argued that state law was unclear about instances where a candidate dies before the election and argued that he, instead, held appointment authority.
On Nov. 4, Burgum appointed Wade Boesham (R) to the seat. On Nov. 18, the District 8 GOP appointed Delzer. The following week, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that state law applied in this case and that the district party held appointment authority.

Delzer and Nehring were sworn in to represent House District 8 on Dec. 1.



Average margin of victory in Pivot Counties has shifted by 25.1 percentage points from Democrats to Republicans since 2008

Ballotpedia is concluding its analysis of Pivot Counties in the 2020 presidential election with a look at the presidential margins of victory in these counties and how they have changed over time.

Pivot Counties are the 206 counties nationwide that voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.

In 2020, we have used the following categories to describe these counties:

  • Retained Pivot Counties, which voted for Trump again this year, and 
  • Boomerang Pivot Counties, which voted for Joe Biden (D) on Nov. 3.

Following the 2020 presidential election, there were 181 Retained Pivot Counties and 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties.

In 2008, Obama had an average margin of victory of 12.3 percentage points across all 206 of these counties. In 2020, the average result across all Pivot Counties was a win for Trump by a margin of 12.8 percentage points. This represents a shift of 25.1 percentage points towards Republicans.

When looking at just the 181 Retained Pivot Counties, the margin shift from 2008 increases to 26.2 percentage points. Of those 181 counties, Trump won a larger margin of victory in 113 compared to his 2016 results. Trump’s margin decreased in 68 Retained Pivot Counties.

The average margins in the 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties Joe Biden (D) won in 2020 shifted 10.2 percentage points towards Republicans when compared to results from the same counties in 2008.

The chart below shows the overall change in average margins of victory by Pivot County category between 2008 and 2020. 

The table below shows the margins of victory from each presidential election since 2008 using the categories above. The rightmost section shows the total change since 2008 both in percentage points and percent change. In Retained Pivot Counties, the average margin of victory has shifted 217% towards Republicans. In the 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties that voted for Biden, the average margin has shifted 76% towards Republicans.

The Pivot Counties where Trump’s margin of victory increased from 2016 were located primarily in the Southeast and Upper Midwest, concentrated in states like Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Counties where Trump’s margin decreased in 2020 were located primarily in New England and the Northeast.

Woodruff County, Ark., a Retained Pivot County, had the largest margin change towards Trump in 2020 with an 18.8 percentage point shift. Ziebach County, S.D., a Boomerang Pivot County, had the largest margin change towards Biden with a 10.5 percentage point shift.

The map below does not differentiate between Retained and Boomerang Pivot Counties. Instead, it shows counties based on whether their margins of victory became either more Republican, towards Trump, or more Democratic, towards Biden, compared to 2016 results.

To learn more about 2020 presidential election margins of victory in Retained and Boomerang Pivot Counties, click here: Election results, 2020: Pivot Counties’ margins of victory analysis



Partisan control of 20 state executive offices changed in the 2020 elections

Image of donkey and elephant to symbolize the Democratic and Republican parties.

Partisan control of 20 state executive offices changed in the 2020 elections. Republicans gained a net three state executive offices and Democrats lost a net two.

Eleven offices flipped from Democratic to Republican control, while eight offices flipped from Republican to Democratic control, and one office flipped from third party to Democratic control.

The table below shows the direction and totals of these flips.

The 20 offices that changed control were spread across 15 states. There was a net gain for Democrats in eight of those states and a net gain for Republicans in seven. The state with the most Democratic gains was Kansas, where two positions on the state board of education flipped from Republican to Democratic control. The state with the most Republican gains was Michigan, where three members of the state university boards of regents flipped from Democrats to Republicans.

The map below shows states where party flips occurred in 2020. States shaded dark gray saw no change in the party control of the state executive offices up for election in 2020. In the case of Utah, the state began holding partisan elections for offices that were previously nonpartisan. Those elections were excluded from this analysis.

There were four states where partisan control of a top-ballot executive office or an executive board changed as a result of the 2020 elections.

In Montana, Republicans won control of the governorship. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) defeated Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D) for the open office. Incumbent Steve Bullock (D) was term-limited. Republicans maintained their majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, so Gianforte’s win created a Republican trifecta in the state.

In Oregon, Democrats won control of the secretary of state’s office. State Sen. Shemia Fagan (D) defeated state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R) in the November election. Incumbent Bev Clarno (R) did not seek re-election. Because the governor and attorney general were already Democrats, Fagan’s win gave Democrats a triplex in the state.

In Colorado and New Hampshire, control of two state boards changed as a result of the 2020 elections. In Colorado, one position on the state’s board of regents flipped to Democrats, giving the party a 5-4 majority. In New Hampshire, two positions on the Executive Council flipped to Republicans, changing the board’s partisan balance from a 3-2 Democratic majority to a 4-1 Republican majority.

To learn more about state executive office party flips, click here.